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Wine Discoveries, take 5

by Tom Cannavan, 07/07

It's now over two years since Wine Discoveries, a new young wine company based in East Sussex, first came to my attention when I reviewed a selection of their wines. Run by wine enthusiasts Jonny and Caroline Gibson, Wine Discoveries has since gone on from strength to strength, tracking down their "great wines from small producers," and earning praise for the wines they have sourced not just from satisfied customers but from critics like Jancis Robinson amongst others.

Jonny Gibson still travels regularly to France to source his wines (in fact you can read his wine diary on the site), buying direct from small, high-quality producers. The South of France and Burgundy remain the two special areas of interest, and Jonny's eye (and palate) for excellent wines at sensible prices is demonstrated in this latest selection sent to me for tasting.
 

white

Domaine Valery Renaudat Reuilly Les Lignis 2006
Loire appellations like Quincy and Reuilly are often sources of extremely good Sauvignon Blanc wines at a pound or two cheaper than similar quality wines from the more famous Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. This wine, a "Coup de Couer" in French wine bible the Guide Hachette, has a pale green colour and a very refined nose of lemon, with a touch of more unctuous, peachy fruit, and really delicate notes of minerals and gooseberry. On the palate this has excellent crispness, with a taut palate that sits between a quite exotic, nectarine and ripe melon fruitiness and those pithy, citrus and mineral characteristics. This has delightful poise and elegance, and finishes with a long, shimmering delicacy in the mouth. Really delightful stuff. £7.99, Wine Discoveries.

Domaine Chevallier Chablis Cuvée Prestige 2005
Domaine Chevallier's 2005 Cuvée Prestige is the product of a top-notch Chablis vintage and is wonderfully 'proper' Chablis, showing both ripe, elegant fruit and a certain - and very welcome - austerity. On the nose juicy green apple and pear aromas are joined by suggestions of yellow plum and more succulent fruit, but there's an underlying minerality and citrus-pith firmness too. On the palate this has lovely poise, elegance and balance, with a racy palette of orchard fruit and citrus flavours, and that clean, savoury, but poised and refined acidity and stony, cool minerality. This has length and balance, and the 'Cuvée Prestige', being a special selection of the best parcels, delivers a fine Chablis experience that is as enjoyable as it is typical. £9.99, Wine Discoveries.

Rosé

Château Verez Rosé 2006
A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, this is a delightful Provence rosé that pours a warm, peachy-pink colour and has dry, herb and cranberry fruit, with some Pomegranate seed and just an underlying glimpse of something creamy and peachy about the fruit. On the palate there's very nicely tempered wine, with dry, savoury fruit and acidity, where the juiciness of the fruit is less sweet than in some rosés, but there is plenty of ripe, bursting flavour. Very nicely balanced with a fine acid structure, this is the essence of the summery Provence style. £7.49, Wine Discoveries.

Red

Domaine de la Madone Beaujolais 'Le Perreon' 2005
Already the recipient of a Decanter Awards bronze and 'wine of the week' from Jancis Robinson, this cuveé from Domaine de la Madonne is made from old vines and spends some time in barrels. It has an immediately 'serious' red wine nose, with some typical Gamay brightness and pastille quality, but also plenty of earthy notes, a juicy redcurrant depth to the fruit and little hints of spice and truffle in a velvety, very Burgundian profile. The palate continues in the same vein, with a racy, crisp edge to the fruit reminiscent of cherry and cranberry, but that slightly softer, smokier, more layered quality from the old vines fruit and barrel ageing. A lovely wine with good balance of fine,racy tannins and crisp acidity, but a mouth-filling texture and depth. £7.99, Wine Discoveries.

Château Verez Côtes de Provence 2004
The red wine from Château Verez is composed of Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It has a solid, dark, earthy red colour and a nose that is very meaty and dense, with grilled meats, plum and smoky, almost chocolaty dark aromas. In the mouth this has a medium- to full-bodied texture, with a vinous quality that has dark, bramble and plum fruits set against an earthiness and definite spiciness, but all tempered by nicely grippy tannins and a savoury edge of acidity. This wine opens and builds in the glass, suggesting decanting it, or sticking it away in the cellar for a couple of years would be worthwhile. £7.99, Wine Discoveries.

Château de Saurs Réserve Eliézer 2002
I have a fondness for the wines of Gaillac in southwest France, having holidayed in the region a couple of times. This top wine from the Château de Saurs is oak-aged and is a blend of 20% Braucol (an ancient grape variety of the area), 35% Syrah and 45% Merlot. It has a really deep, crimson colour, and an alluring nose of toast and cedarwood, with wonderfully deep blackcurrant fruit. This really is the essence of creamy, chocolaty cassis,and is very attractive. On the palate this is more savoury and grippy than the nose suggests, with a chewy, frim edge to the tannins and the solid core of black fruit quite muscular and dense. The creamy, coffeeish support of the oak softens the picture, but this stays focused and tight through to a long finish. A wine that deserves its three stars from the guide Hachette and its various gold and silver medals. £9.99, Wine Discoveries.